Scientific Computing
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math
Teaching & Learning Math & Science with Technology:
Graphing Calculators, Numerical Methods, Computer Algebra Systems & Linux Clusters

Why Shadowfax? Our cluster is so fast that we named it after the Lord Of The Rings character!

Website once known as http://CalcPage.tripod.com (1988 – 2008)

AP Calculus BC is switching gears this year. We're leaving our TI-89s behind for the first time in 20 years! We will go forth and conquer with our new TI nSpire CX CAS Graphing Calculators! We've been running project after project on Donorschoose and nearly have a class set of nSpires to loan out. We used to call the TI-89 "Hal," hence the title of this post: Hal Must Die - No More TI-89! It shouldn't be a tough transition, however, as the 89 and the nSpire are very similar Computer Algebra Systems aka CAS. However, the nSpire has a nicer color, hi-res, bright interface and a document system to save our work. It also has the LUA programming environment, but I think we'll stick to TI-BASIC when writing programs for Calculus class! Whenever I change textbooks or technology, I have to rerecord the course for YouTube. So, I'll record AP Calculus BC all over again with a bunch of new screencasts featuring the nSpire! This was the first course I ever recorded, so it's about time. Here's a taste of the nSpire (not my video):

(1) My preCalculus for Juniors classes will start the school year with Chapter 12 this year! We start with Chapter 12 so we don't waste a lot of time reviewing topics from Chapters 1 and 2 which are about solving Linear Equations and Quadratics! So, when midyear is upon us, we can switch to Calculus without skipping important topics at the end of the preCalculus text. As such, we cover as much preCalculus as we can in the Fall Semester and as much AP Calculus AB material as we can in the Spring in preparation for Calculus next year! (2) We are using a Computer Algebra System called SAGE instead of the TI-83. We used to call the TI-83 "Ziggie." Hence the title of this post: Ziggie must die! The grand experiment this year is to see how well students learn the Math while learning to code in python at the same time! Well, it's not such a grand experiment as we've been using SAGECELL for several years now. What's different is that we won't be using the TI-83 this year as we just don't need it anymore! (3) We will be learning a lot of python in class. You can learn some python code on your own too with this online, interactive textbook! (4) Here's a taste of our first day:

I started getting ready for the new AP Computer Science 20 hour lab requirement that's replacing the GridWorld Case Study using the 3 New Labs some time ago. If I recall correctly, all I had to do was goto the secure documents area of the APCommunity Teacher Audit site and download 3 zip files. Before downloading said files I had to click on some sort of acknowledgement pop up about using these labs or similar labs of my own design as part of the 20 hour requirement, that these files are indeed secure (ie: not to be posted publically) and that GridWorld is gone!

If that's all you think that you have to do for your students, I'd say that you're missing the point! The new requirement is to have at least 20 hours of lab time as part of your course. I don't think that's going to be a problem for most of us currently teaching APCS as I'm sure we probably provide more than 20 hours of lab time already. I know that I have lab time as part of every single class (that's why I teach in a PC Lab/Classroom). In 150 classes before AP Review and AP Exam Week, I probably have 100 hours of lab time! I can go many classes in a row without any formal lecture if we are in the throws of a particularly challenging problem set. I usually do a brief lecture at the beginning of a chapter. Then I give the students a pdf of the chapter to study at home privately via Edmodo or DropBox. Then I give my students a problem set for the chapter to hash out "together" (ie: in pairs but I help out at each PC or at the SmartBoard).

Now, if the 20 hours really means 20x60 minutes and not 20 periods, then the new requirement is more like 30 periods if your periods are 40 minutes long. So, if you did the New Labs all in a row, we're talking, for example, all of January and most of February.

When I heard of the demise of GridWorld, I was very happy as I could finally go back to using my own smaller "case studies" or projects that I never had time to do since the advent of College Board imposed Case Studies. I would only be able to do 1 or 2 of my own projects and varied them each year. I guess I'm a throw back to the time before AP Case Studies. Yes, there was such a time, and I enjoyed teaching that way.

Now the problem is to be able to cover the same material presented in the New Labs in those 20 hours. I was going to do my own thing or even just stick to GridWorld for a while. But now that I see the labs, I think my students may well enjoy this approach. I'll probably do a mix of a few of my own projects with the New Labs and the old problem sets from our textbook.

I've read the articles on http://www.skylit.com (Maria and Gary Litvin) as well as on http://www.bluepelicanjava.com (Charles Cook) regarding the use of the 3 Labs. Gary makes the case that the New Labs will take too much class time to cover thoroughly. Charles talks about reorganizing the labs into 17-23 hours of class time to cover them all. BluePelicanJava includes a lot of APCS B aka CS II, so I guess we can cut some of that! I was originally 100% with Gary, but now I think I'm somewhere between the two.

http://www.apluscompsci.com (Stacey Armstrong) even has a College Board approved syllabus with the New Labs integrated throughout the year. So, I guess she's on board too.

I haven't heard much from Cay Horstmann, or anyone else for that mater, on this subject.

You know, when we used to teach C++ in AP Computer Science, I used Gary Litvin's C++ for You++ as well as Owen Astrachan's Tapestry. Both of these C++ texts were masterpieces in my opinion!

Now, I use Gary's "MP3: Mathematics for the Digital Age and Programming in Python 3.0" in my intro CS class and Cay's Big Java in APCS A aka CS I. I wonder what Owen has to say about the New Labs. He's probably too busy developing the new AP CS Principles course to weigh in on this. BTW, these two texts are masterworks as well! Keep up the good work!

Am I going to be able to fit in every single exercise from all 3 Labs the first year? Probably not, but I think I'll try to fit as much in as I can. As with everything else, it comes down to experience. WRT to the 3 Labs we are all NOOBS again, so this year we can do justice to some of the Labs, next year a bit more, then eventually we'll get it down.

On a related note, if I had decided NOT to use the New Labs and substitute my own projects covering the same concepts, would I have had to resubmit my APCS Syllabus for audit? I was never clear on this point. I suppose it's moot now as I'm using the New Labs.

If you want ideas for your own projects, I like to use the StdDraw class from Princeton CS 126. I've also used How To Think Like A Computer Scientist in my intro course using Python. Some of the projects in there could easily be done with Java. Here's some nice lab ideas from the awesome Roger Frank!
Given enough time (obviously can't do all this but I wish I could), here's what I'm thinking: CH1: Hello World (main, println, basic IO) CH2: Using Objects (from existing classes) CH3: Implementing Classes (our own constructors, accessors, mutators) CH4: Fundamental Data Types (Objects vs Primitives) CH6: Decisions (if statements, boolean expressions) CH7: Iteration (for loops, while loops, for each loops)
**MAGPIE LAB**

PROJECT: Lindenmayer Systems (Strings) PROJECT: Pythagorean Triples (Loops)

PROJECT: Function Graphing Calculator PROJECT: Parametric Graphing Calculator PROJECT: Polar Graphing Calculator
CH8: Arrays and ArrayLists (1D and 2D static arrays, Lists)
**PICTURE LAB** skip optionals PROJECT: Polygons and ShoeLace PROJECT: Iterated Fractal Systems PROJECT: Number Base Conversions PROJECT: Roman Numeral Arithmentic PROJECT: Chess960 and Random Numbers PROJECT: Complex and Mandelbrot
CH11: Interfaces and Polymorphism CH13: Inheritance
**ELEVENS LAB** skip optionals except sim
CH18: Recursion CH19: Sorting and Searching PROJECT: Turtle Class PROJECT: Turtle Class+Lindenmayer PROJECT: Turtle Class+Koch SnowFlakes PROJECT: Turtle Class+Ball/Ballistics PROJECT: Turtle Class+nBody/Orbits PROJECT: Our own Static Math Class
AP REVIEW AP EXAMS POST AP EXAMS: Linux Clusters, MPI4PY Python, VPython, Cython SAGE, POVRAY, BLENDER, TACHYON Python Samples to convert to Java projects:

Java Samples:

VPython Sample:

SAGE Samples: (4 video playlist)

Clusters and Scientific Computing Samples: (6 video playlist)

Yes, it is sad, but it is true, this was our last week together! Didn't I tell you it goes way too fast? I had a ball teaching you M122 in our Multimedia Lecture Hall. I hope you got something out of it too! Keep in touch.

BTW, I even got some nice reviews this week on RateMyTeacher and RateMyProfessor! Wow, I haven't gotten any ratings on there for quite some time.

This week we talked about U-Substitution, Variable Separable DiffEqus and some modeling with our own DiffEqus. In fact, our last homework check had a doosie of a heating curve question involving morphine dosages!

After our first YouTube this week about all our anti-derivative rules, we had some guest speakers. William Noel spoke about a long lost Archimedes text showing the use of some Calculus concepts prior to 200BC? We also had Col Chris Hadfield singing a tune from the ISS!

NUMA NUMA Calculus Review!

Harvard Calc1 Chap6 Day2:

Who invented Calculus anyway?

Harvard Calc1 Chap7 Day1:

The Singing Astronaut!

Harvard Calc1 Chap11 Day1:

Last, but not least, I got some new extra credit, student-made FILKs!

Teaching NCC SSII M122:

Week 04 - CH5+6 AntiDerivatives!

Based on all we studied the last 3 weeks about the Derivative, we found AntiDerivatives Numerically, Graphically and Analytically. We talked about net displacement vs total displacement, area bound by 2 curves and the Accumulator function!

YouTubes this week introduced one of my personal idols, namely Grace Murray Hopper! We also had a YouTube on the importance of adding a +C to our AntiDerivative functions.

Hopper on 60 Minutes:

Harvard Calc1 Chap5 Day1:

Hopper on Letterman:

Harvard Calc1 Chap5 Day2:

Calculus Rhapsody:

Harvard Calc1 Chap6 Day1:

Teaching NCC SSII M122:

Week 03 - CH4 Derivative Applications!

This week we focused on applications of the derivative including Optimization, Implicit Differentiation, Related Rates and L'Hopital's Rule. We even checked the Mean Girls Limit using L'Hopital!

Our youtubes focused on FILKs by the original Math Filker himself, Tom Lehrer! We also viewed "Calculus in 20 Minutes!"

Tom Lehrer's "Lobachevsky!"

Harvard Calc1 Chap4 Day1:

Tom Lehrer's "New Math!"

Harvard Calc1 Chap4 Day2:

Tom Lehrer's "The Elements!"

Harvard Calc1 Chap4 Day3:

Calculus in 20 Minutes???

Was Lindsay Lohan's DNE response correct?

Sheldon Cooper's rendition of "The Elements!"

Even Harry Potter covers "The Elements?"

Teaching NCC SSII M122:

Week 02 - CH3 Derivative Rules!

We had fun this week playing with the Product Rule, the Quotient Rule and the Chain Rule. Below you will find our ScreenCasts for Monday-Wednesday and associated FILKS. Today, Thursday was our 2nd test of Summer Session II (6/30-7/31)!

We went back to the difference quotient to find the derivatives of e^x, sin(x), cos(x) and tan(x). We used the chain rule in combination with the product and quotient rules. We used inverse functions and the chain rule to find the derivative of ln(x), arcsin(x) and arctan(x). We used the chain rule to differentiate implictly and touched on related rates. We even talked about parametrically defined planet orbits finding vector valued functions r(t), v(t) and a(t)!

Product Rule FILK by The Turtles?

Harvard Calc1 Chap3 Day1:

Quotient Rule FILK by The Beatles??

Harvard Calc1 Chap3 Day2:

Chain Rule FILK by Bruno Mars???

Harvard Calc1 Chap3 Day3:

Teaching NCC SSII M122:

Week 01 - CH2 Definition of the Derivative!

We had a great start to Summer Session II in my M122 Harvard Calculus I course this past week! We focused on limits in general and the Difference Quotient in particular. BTW, even though I've transitioned most my classes at the High School to SAGE and SAGECELL, NCC is still requiring the use of the TI-83, aka Ziggie. So, expect to see Ziggie a lot in the following ScreenCasts! Don't forget, the TI-89, aka Hal, is being replaced at the High School with the TI-nSpire, aka Dr. Neville, next year.

I started each day with a YouTube Calculus Filk related to the topic at hand. If you don't know what I mean by Calculus Filks, take a look here! What follows is a Filk and a ScreenCast for each of the first 3 days of class this week. The 4th day was a test on CH2. Most days start with a Filk and HWK RV followed by the new topic and HWK preview.

'I Will Derive'

Harvard Calc1 Chap2 Day1:

'Differentiabul' by Calculus The Musical

Harvard Calc1 Chap2 Day2:

'L'Hopital's Rule'

Harvard Calc1 Chap2 Day3:

Teaching NCC SSII M122:

Day 01 - Setting Up Shop!

OK, I'm teaching M122 Harvard Calculus I this Summer Session II and I got the huge multimedia room with balcony seating and 50" HD TVs! So, I brought in my DRIOD Tablet and connected it to the multimedia center PC over WiFi with SplashTop. Now I can drive the whole multimedia experience wirelessly from my tablet. I suppose this is a continuation of last Summer's post about M111! All I need to do is add a stylus, a pen app such as Xournal and a Graphing Calculator emulator like Virtual TI!

What follows is a picture gallery of the new room. Of course, this is different from my regular room at the High School pictured above in my banner.

This is my tablet mirroring my PC Desktop using the SplashTop app.

Here's the multimedia center PC Desktop running Splashtop, Xournal (pen app) and VTI (emulator). Note the control panel to the right that turns on the PC Projector, HD TVs and sound.

Here's my view from the bottom, front of the room to the balcony seats. I have over 70 seats all together!

Here's the view from my PC.

This is the view of the main 8' PC Projector Screen from the front row.

This is a view as you enter from the right-hand front door. These doors have a magnetic key lock system. If I lock or unlock one door, all 4 doors follow suit!

This view is from the right-hand rear door.

Here's a view from the balcony! Note how every couple of seats has a little black box that pops up. That's to charge your laptop or connect to Ethernet. These days everyone brings a charged tablet and uses WIFI....

This view is from the left-hand rear door.

Last, but not least, here's a close-up of one of the 50" HD TVs!

Teaching NCC SSII M122:

Day 00 - Adjunct Summer Meeting!

The last Wednesday in June is judgement day. This is when I find out if I have a class to teach this Summer. I'm trying for M122 Calculus I or M123 II in B115 a PC Lab or B218/B318 a Multimedia Lecture Hall during Summer Session II. So, to calm my nerves, I took a walk around the campus!

I parked in the East Lot behind Cluster D.

This is Cluster C from the same lot.

You can see Nassau Colosseum from here!

Then I walked around D Cluster.

Then I came across the new Life Sciences building.

Next there's the Faculty Lot by the water fountain.

Hang a left and you're behind D Cluster.

Here's my fave fountain with D behind it!

Here's the fountain the with ramp to C Cluster!

So, I went up the ramp and through the halls all the way to Cluster A and find another fountain that is being fixed up:

Here's the area near the that fountain next to A Cluster.

All this is right next to The Tower aka Administrative Building T and the Plaza which is next to the West Lots! Behind The Tower is CCB.

Here's another view of the Tower. The Registrar is now in Cluster C Floor 1 but it used to be under the Plaza on the Lower Level of The Tower. Now the Lower Level is just a tunnel to CCB.

Hang a right and your up to the library. Cluster F is on the left.

Cluster F has a lot of Bio Labs. It also has several Lecture Halls but they are so 20th Century! Here's F123/F223.

Here's F227/F337. TVs and VHS have got to go!

Behind Cluster F is The Old Campus with several Office Buildings.

Said Office Buildings used to be full of classrooms and surround The Old Quad.

You can even see what's left of Mitchel Field whence Charles Lindbergh made the first trans-atlantic flight to Paris!

Go back to the Library and hang a right and you go down the ramp to Cluster A again.

Cluster A Floor 1:

Cluster A Floor 2:

Cluster A Floor 3 (view from window):

Cluster B Floor 1:

Cluster B Floor 2:

Cluster B Floor 3 (Math Mail Room):

Cluster B Floor 3 (Math Adjunct Office):

Cluster B Floor 3 (my room B218/B318):

Cluster C Floor 1:

Cluster C Floor 1 (Registration moved from The Tower):

Cluster C Floor 2:

Cluster C Floor 2:

Cluster C Floor 2:

Cluster C Floor 2:

Cluster C Floor 2:

Cluster C Floor 2:

Cluster C Floor 2 (corridor to D Cluster):

Cluster C Floor 3 (Planetarium):

Cluster C Floor 3:

Cluster C Floor 3:

Cluster C Floor 3:

Cluster C Floor 3 (Observatory):

Here's the corridor from D back to C.

Here Cluster D Floor 1:

Here Cluster D Floor 2:

Here Cluster D Floor 3 (view from window):

Then I went out by the fountain again with Clusters E&F in the background. Behind E&F is the old campus complete with quad. The Book Store is east of here. Clusters E&A have a similar layout. Cluster E has Physical Therapy Labs and Cluster A has Foreign Language, however.

Between the bus stop and the fountain there's a labarinth?

Next was Life Sciences again.

More Life Sciences and then the drive back home!

On the way home, I drove via Perimeter Road to the West Lot. Here's a view of the Tower from there!

Finally, a little ways further west is Mitchel Field and The Cradle of Aviation Museum.